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How much do you know about ranking in Google? Do you have a website that is up to date with relevant information and images? Did you know that paying attention to your keywords, meta descriptions and even having the appropriate photo sizes can affect where you show up in Google?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Jessica Tappana about starting a group practice and how you can rank higher in Google.
Everyone loves payday. But loving a payroll provider? That’s a little weird. Still, small businesses across the country love running payroll with Gusto. Gusto automatically files and pays your taxes, it’s super easy to use, and you can add benefits and HR support to help take care of your team and keep your business safe. Plus, listeners get three months free when they run their first payroll. So if you want better payroll in 2019, now’s the time to start. To get 3 months free once you run your first payroll just go to gusto.com/joe.
Meet Jessica Tappana
Jessica is the owner of Aspire Counseling, a group practice in Columbia, Missouri. Along the way, Jessica discovered the power of a beautiful website that ranks well in Google. She taught herself SEO and she’s the founder of Simplified SEO Consulting.
Find out more about Jessica on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Jessica Tappana’s Story
Jessica started her group practice while on maternity leave with her second child. At about 3 months into this journey Jessica joined the Start a Group Practice Mastermind. Jessica filled up quite soon and brought on 3 x 1099’s and Aspire Counseling group practice was born. As Jessica navigated her way around different marketing strategies she decided to focus on getting her website on the first page of Google and began teaching herself SEO. In addition to owning her group practice, she now helps other therapists improve their website rankings.
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Jessica about things to consider when starting a group practice and ranking higher in Google.
Things to Consider Before Starting a Group Practice
I highly recommend dipping your toes in the water in a small way.
- Name your practice
- Have a good website set up
- Test it out by subleasing for a few hours a week
Hiring People For The Group Practice
Jessica admits that one of the mistakes she made was to add her first three 1099’s to her practice without thinking purposefully about the culture of her company and she hadn’t thought through what would make them successful. She started listening to podcasts and found this to be a huge help as she avoided possible pitfalls.
After reading The Ideal Team Player, Jessica swears that it revolutionized the way she thought about hiring and setting these team players up for success.
How To Rank Higher In Google
- Figure out your keywords – consider short tail (really small sentences) and long tail keywords (full phrases)
- Pay close attention to your headers – if you are using WordPress, you want to have at least 1 x Header 1 (this title should use your number 1 keyword you want to rank for). Break up the text with some subheaders that use your other keywords
- Make sure your meta descriptions are accurate
- Optimize your photos and make sure they are the appropriate file size
- Ensure that your photos are appropriately titled and have a relevant alt text
Sign up for Jessica’s 7 day Simplified SEO E-mail Series.
Other Books Mentioned In This Episode:
Meet Joe Sanok
Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.
Thanks For Listening!
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[JOE SANOK] Everyone loves payday, but loving a payroll provider? That’s a little weird. Still, private practices across the country love running payroll with Gusto. Gusto automatically files and pays your taxes. It’s super easy to use and you can add benefits and HR support to help you take care of your team and make your private practice safe. It’s loyal, it’s modern. You might fall in love yourself. Listeners get three months free when they run their first payroll. Try a demo and test it out over at gusto.com/Joe. That’s gusto.com/Joe. This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 356. Welcome all you practitioners. Hope you are doing awesome. I’m Joe Sanok, your host here live in the Radio Center II building in beautiful downtown Traverse City. Hey, if you are new to this podcast, I’m so glad you’re here. I get to talk to so many people each week, when they’re doing their pre-consulting call or considering joining Next Level Practice or a bunch of other ways. And it’s always so fun to just like get to know you and talk about your practice and give you advice. It’s so exciting for me. I can’t believe that this is what I get to do. And, you’re awesome. So, if you’re new here, hey, congratulations. You made it. And if you’ve been around a while, really glad you’re here too. We’ve got a bunch of things coming up and I’ve been emailing the email list to let them know about it and make sure people don’t miss it. But letting you know on the podcast is also another way that I can get the word out about all the different things that are coming out that are really kind of based on your phase of practice. And so, if you are looking at growing a private practice, we are hosting an awesome meetup/retreat/conference, whatever you want to call it, Estes Park, Colorado in October. So, October, 2019, the early bird tickets just went on sale for Killin’It Camp. And we’re really excited at how many tickets are selling. It’s going to be amazing to just see all of these clinicians come together in one place, talk about how to kill it. We’ve got, I want to say we’re up to 12 or 13 different breakout sessions speakers around all sorts of different aspects of just killing it in private practice. So, head on over to killingitcamp.com if you want to read more. I think you’re going to like it if you are starting growing and scaling your practice. We want it to be the place where people get together and they share the best ideas, the best practices, but they make those lifelong friendships to support them in their private practice. We’ve got the Killin’It Camp tickets went on sale at killingitcamp.com. We also just opened up the applications for our mastermind group and we’re doing our big ideas mastermind. This is the first time that we’ve done it, but it’s using the same model we’ve used with Next Level mastermind. So, it’s limited to a group of eight people. It’s all for people that want to launch a big idea outside of their practice. So, that might be a podcast, it might be an e-course, might be consulting. I’ve helped so many people launch podcasts in different types of things. And actually Jessica, who I’m interviewing today is one of those people and it’s amazing to see what she’s doing. The launching big ideas to have a mastermind group that’s specific to support you in launching your big idea, it’s a 12-month program where we work together. You get to come to Slow Down School totally free here in Northern Michigan. We work on launching that big idea and getting it out into the world. You can apply for that over at practiceofthepractice.com/ideas. And then if you’re just getting a practice going, our next level of practice, that is our group that is aimed at people in their first phases from kind of zero to 100,000 when you’re first getting going. That membership community, the next one’s open March 11th, but after that, we’re actually going to be doing fewer cohorts per year, just so that we aren’t always kind of in launch mode. And we don’t want the email list to get too many emails just promoting that stuff. If it’s a fit jump in. If it’s not, then don’t. So, we’re going to just be doing it, probably every three or four months, we’ll be launching a new cohort now because we’ve got a great momentum with the 160 or so people that we have in there. So, if you want to be on the invite list, you can head on over to practicethepractice.com/invite. That’s another thing we’ve got going on. And then lastly, we’ve got our free masterclass that we’re doing all about how do you go from zero to $100,000 a year within two years. And we’ve done this masterclass a number of times and it’s an hour long, we do a lot of Q & A. I walk you through week by week live. This isn’t a recording that I put you through. I’m there live and we’re going to be doing several of these throughout 2019. And if you’re in the future, we’re probably doing more, at that point. You can just go to practiceofthepractice.com/webinar and you can see all the dates there. Sign up for the one that works for you. They’re going to be in March and June and kind of in the summer and then through the next fall. So, sign up for that stuff. We are trying to offer tons of content at every kind of level from the free masterclasses that we’re doing, the really kind of cheap Next Level Practice when you’re just getting started all the way up to doing things like coming to Killin’It Camp. And we know that that’s a little bit of an expense to fly out to Colorado or if you join the mastermind group all around launching a big idea. So, that’s what’s going on here, to create things and help you guys succeed and to support you. It’s just so much fun and I love kind of being your guide throughout that so that you can just rock it out. Well, today on the podcast, I am so excited about what we cover with Jessica. Jessica Tappana. I said it wrong for like nine months and she didn’t correct me. So, it like embedded in my memory wrong so, I screwed up. But anyway, Jessica is amazing. She’s someone who will really talk about how to rank higher in Google, but she is not a tech person. She talks about how she is a technophobe and really if she can do it, anybody can. And to see how much she just loves meta descriptions and SEO and has launched a whole business around that as well as really growing her group practice quickly. It’s awesome to see, I’ve been working with her for over a year now. It’s amazing to see when someone really drills in and puts in the time to learn something, implement it, and then watch the results and change, how, they’re just like unstoppable. And Jessica is one of those people. So, without any further ado, here’s Jessica. Well, today on the Practice of the Practice podcast, we have Jessica Tappana. Jessica is the owner of Aspire Counseling, a group practice in Columbia, Missouri. Along the way, Jessica discover the power of a beautiful website that ranks well on Google. She taught herself SEO and she’s the founder of simplifiedseoconsulting.com. Jessica, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. [JESSICA TAPPANA] Thanks for having me on, Joe. I’m excited to be here. [JOE] Oh yeah. I mean, I’ve got to watch you over the last year or so, go from, you had your practice, you’ve grown a group practice now you’re going to start doing consulting. It’s so cool to see you level up in so many different areas. [JESSICA] Yeah, it’s been a fun and at times a crazy journey, but I’m loving it. [JOE] Well, take us back maybe a couple of years when you started your practice. Tell us about kind of your practice and why you started it and then maybe we can talk about going into group work and then all this SEO work you’ve been into. [JESSICA] Awesome. So, I started my group practice on my maternity leave essentially with my second child. Over the course of my pregnancy, a variety of things happened and I just realized, I’m like, I’m ready to do this. I’ve been dreaming about it for years. I wanted more flexibility. I thought I was only going to work three days a week, a few hours. And so, my daughter was about two weeks old when I signed a business license and, got the business license and signed some, a small loan, that sort of stuff, and started seeing clients when she was six weeks old for consultations and paid appointments at eight weeks. And then by the time she was about, everything’s in terms of her age, right? That’s how I measure things. [JOE] Right. [JESSICA] But by the time, I’d only been in practice about three months. I had added another day and it was about to add a fifth day and was like, this is growing faster than I had ever expected. And so, that’s when I started listening to you and reached out and joined the starter group practice mastermind and grew a group practice from there. [JOE] Yeah. So, maybe talk a little bit about that mastermind that Alison runs or ran. She still runs it and you were a part of. So, what was helpful in that and what were some of the steps that you took to really start the group practice? [JESSICA] Yeah, so I think that there were a variety things that were helpful, but to be honest, a huge one is just like the public commitment that I’m going to do this group practice thing, right? Like, I mean, I’m in a mastermind called starter group practice. I’m going to show up every week, so I better actually do it. [JOE] Right. I don’t want to be the failure in the group. [JESSICA] Exactly. I’m not used to being a failure. I can’t do that. And I’d had a couple people reach out to me before I even considered joining that, to be honest. So, there were some leads already going on, but I think I was like, “Oh my gosh, Joe keeps saying on his podcast that this is a great way to earn a little bit of residual income, but am I really going to do it?” And then when I was in the mastermind like, “Yeah, obviously I’m going to do it.” And that was a matter of finding people whose niche worked well with mine. The first couple of people I brought on had very different niches, minus trauma. You know, this about me. I love working out with PTSD and watching people find healing and I’ve been trained in a couple of evidence-based practices for that and it’s such a passion. And so, the first couple of people I brought on did not do that and I was trying to kind of supplement that. But Allison’s group was great. I think her, she has a huge strength at managing people, which is what I was really needing some guidance on and in fact grew so quickly from that that I ended up jumping up to your next level practice one. [JOE] Next Level Mastermind. You should probably [crosstalk] Yeah. [JESSICA] Yeah. I hate that you have those, the same name by the way [crosstalk] [JOE] Yeah, I agree. We’ll probably rename it at some point. I want to go back to before you joined the mastermind group, the starter practice. What would you recommend people consider before they start a practice, a group practice? So, they’re clicking along, their own kind of personal practice is going well. And I know a lot of people say like, “Do I want to take that on?” Almost like when a couple says we should have our first child. It’s like a big decision. What should people consider? And then also maybe I think a lot of people overthink it and they’ll maybe take it too seriously. Like if you start a group practice, you always have to have a group practice. What would you say in that consideration? Maybe that contemplation phase of starting a group practice? [JESSICA] A couple of things. First, having a really good website I think before you even go to that group practice is really key. I had a great website. It wasn’t ranking yet. I wish I had done a little bit more SEO work. So, I was ready, but at least having a website that you really like. And then having a name, like I had to change mine. My original LLC was using my name. And so, you know, I wanted to change after I figured people didn’t want to come work for Jessica Tappana, LCSW, LLC. So, we made it Aspiring Counseling. So, it’s not all about me. It’s about the group. And then another thing is I tested it out and I’m really glad I did and I would kind of recommend people do that. And by testing out, I mean it was really simple. A friend of mine wanted to see clients like twice a week, like two clients a week. She said, “Can I use your office?” I’d heard on your podcast that that was a thing to do. And I’m like, “Sure, let’s try that.” And it just got me used to somebody being in my office because I thought I’d be very weirded out by that. And I only agreed to it because it was my friend. But it worked and I was like, “Hey, it’s kind of nice.” Like she emptied the trash every week when she left after her two clients. I was like, her emptying the trash alone makes it worth her coming in for two hours a week. It was really cool. And so, and she just subleased for a few months. It was no big deal at all. But I think that just subleasing for a couple of hours a week is a great way to just see, you know, “Can I really share my space? What’s that look like?” And there’s very low risk and very low investment. With subleasing, I wasn’t marketing her. I wasn’t paying for an E-HR. There really was zero cost to me. And so, I highly recommend dipping your toes in the water in a really small way. [JOE] Yeah, I think that’s a great point because there’s those little things like emptying the trash. They can be like, “Oh I could totally do this.” Or, I remember the first person that I had, he would always move the clock. And so, in the middle of the session I’d be like, “Where’s the clock? I don’t even know where I’m at in this session.” And so, then I just had to get in the habit of, “Okay, the clock’s going to be in a totally random different spot. I got to move it back every time.” Because a couple of the sessions, it was just like, “I don’t know what time it is. I think we’re almost done. I have no idea.” So, but yeah, I liked that idea of kind of dipping your toes and … how did you, or did you transition her to being a 1099 or W2 at some point after that? Or did she always stay as a sub-leaser? [JESSICA] I did not. Actually, about the time I was adding sub-leasers on, she decided to focus on her full-time job. She was getting ready to move and so, she did not end up sticking with us. And so, I didn’t have that worry about that. [JOE] Because I think that would be a struggle for some people where they have people that have been subleasing and then it’s like, ‘Here’s your option. You can come on as a 1099 or W2 or you can lose your office.” Because it’s really hard to keep both going at the same time. [JESSICA] Yeah. [JOE] So, then you realized that you liked the group practice. What were some of the first steps that you took that really helped you go from not really having anyone to having a group practice? [JESSICA] In some ways I thought I was planning it out. I’d been listening to your podcast. I joined the mastermind. So, I thought, you know, that I kind of knew the steps and I still think that one of the struggles I made was like, if the first couple of, my first two 1099’s, actually really my first three, I didn’t seek out at all. They sought me out and I just was very quick to add them without thinking purposefully about the culture of the company and so, it worked out. Two of the three are still with me, but I hadn’t thought through what would make them successful. And I don’t really feel like I did a great job of setting them up for success. So, I feel like at first, I was kind of just run and see when I fall down and where I fall down. But listening to podcasts was a huge help. I think I avoided a lot of the pitfalls I could’ve had that way. And then as I started thinking about the culture, found the ideal team player, actually I think that was the spring when Kasey Compton was first interviewed on your podcast. She talked about the ideal team player and I read that very very quickly. Another colleague in our consulting group had also, we live in the same town and both read it and [crosstalk] [JOE] Yeah, I feel like that book, and then Profit First, just like swept the groups, basically because Kasey said it like people were like well if Kasey read it the way we should read those books. [JESSICA] But they worked, they changed how I did everything because yeah, Profit First, I didn’t read it until the summer and had I read that before I ever started my practice, that would have been huge. My new business I am using Profit First from day on. I’ve decided to separate out the finances for the two businesses and I’m like from day one using it, meaning that last month was the first month I actually had any paying clients for the new business. And I already am going to write myself a check here in, like tomorrow for that, for November for that second business because I’m following Profit First. So, I think that those were key, but the ideal team player just revolutionized the way I thought about hiring and about setting my 10, I do 1099’s, about setting them up for success. And I feel like it’s made me a lot more intentional about my management style. One of my 1099’s told me the other day, she’s like, “You have a unique leadership style.” And she meant it as a compliment. She drives an hour and a half once a week to see clients for two days at my office from her hometown. She was like, “I wouldn’t come that direction if it weren’t purposeful.” But I think that the ideal team player had a lot to do with that. And, so, that was maybe not one of my first steps, but it should have been. [JOE] Yeah. So, I mean, I think the, in the first couple of people, you’re still kind of in that trial run seeing if you like it. When did you realize this is really going to be a legit group practice? [JESSICA] I realized I had a choice. So, I had gone from a single office to having two office spaces right next to each other, because there was a group that I wanted to lead and I needed the second office to have space to lead the group. But I still with those two offices was able to make it all work on just my income. But there was a point last spring where, at this point I had three 1099’s and they were fighting over office space. I mean, very politely fighting. I’ve got to give them credit for it [crosstalk]. It was very polite, but it was clear that like people weren’t happy with the office space. And then I wasn’t happy because we had no lobby until one of my clients had put a random folding chair out in the hallway outside my office that people were using as a waiting area. And I’m like, “Okay, I’ve got a choice. Either I’m going to make this a group practice and I can actually move somewhere with a lobby, or I’m not going to and I need to accept I’m never going to have a lobby and these people are going to like have this conflict.” It sounds like, whatever. So, I moved and I moved to a full office suite with a beautiful lobby. It has no windows. So, I’ve had to put in some big, you know, I did a bunch of research about how to make that feel homey anyways. And we have big nature pictures, and running water, and stuff like that to disguise the fact that it doesn’t have any windows. And I think that that moment, the moment where I signed a lease for a bigger office was the moment I was officially committing to not going back into doing a private practice because, I mean a group practice because at this point, it would be incredibly, like I would not be bringing home much at all if everybody quit tomorrow and I had to pay all of these bills with only my income. I’d have to A, increase my client load and B, bring home very little. [JOE] Yeah, I feel like a very common thing that I see is people, they start a group or their own practice, it starts to grow, they’re making better money than they expected, then they start to add a group practice and add people to their practice and there’s this tipping point where they don’t quite, maybe even their clinicians are making more than they’re making. When your expenses are higher because you upgraded your office and you’re putting in all this extra time, when did it feel like, “Oh this is like actually worth it,” because you just said, you know, if they left that you wouldn’t be taking as much home. Like when was that tipping point when it felt like, “Okay, I see why all this hard work is actually paying off.” [JESSICA] Oh my goodness. We had to get through the summer before I got to that point because the summer, we were doing well. I was starting to feel like we were at that point in the spring and then I knew there would be a summer dip but it dipped in half. And, so, through the summer I kind of was second guessing some of my decisions and actually had to like take out a little bit in debt again in order to keep paying myself anything and that wasn’t an option to not pay myself. I was working. But then as soon as September hit, our referral, actually it was like late August, I should go back and look at the exact date at some point. But we just had like overnight explosion of intake calls and they started coming in right and left. And I think, you know, the SEO work that I had done before had been paying off, but over the summer, there just aren’t many people looking. We live in a college town. All the college kids leave for the summer. And so, right when they started coming back, parents out of state were able to find us online and call us and be like, “Hey, my college students coming back.” And I’m like, “Great, have them call.” And they did and we just filled up. It was beyond amazing how we went from feeling like, “Did I even make the right decision,” to all my therapists having almost their ideal numbers right now? Everybody I believe is within one of their ideal number and one person is not taking any new clients and I’m not. [JOE] Wow. [JESSICA] So, — [JOE] Hey, practitioners, I want to take a second to tell you about the Killin’It Camp retreat. If you would value connecting with a community of like-minded and like hearted practice owners who want to deepen their sense of purpose and meaning as business owners and to talk about and share the best practices and strategies for ultimate business and life success, then this event might be for you. If you’d value being around high performing practitioners without the big egos, clinicians that believe in living life to the fullest while also growing an amazing practice, you might enjoy Killin’It Camp. Once a year, we’re getting together in person, in small groups with the best guest experts and so much more in Estes Park Colorado. We’ve done these focus retreats multiple times. They’ve sold out every single time. If you’re excited about it, make sure to check it out at killingitcamp.com where you can sign up for the next Killin’It Camp therapists’ retreat. One of the things you might be wondering is, is leaving my business actually going to make me a better business owner? For many of you, you work really hard, but at this retreat we’ll be helping you to know exactly where to spend your time and where to say no. To speed up, you have to slow down. You have to learn from experts and grow a community of like-minded supporters. We have to step back so we can go back into our practices to rock it out. This is the same concept as going to therapy, a weekend intensive, or a church retreat. You take a moment to reconnect with what really matters. You plan, you strategize, you work on your business so you can be better in your business. If that all sounds good, check it out at killingitcamp.com. So, at what point did you start getting into SEO, and meta descriptions, and all of that? [JESSICA] I really started, there was a night when I was trying to decide if I was going to do a group practice. I hadn’t fully committed. I had the two, 1099’s, but they weren’t filling up. It’s like, I had been getting all these referrals from people that I knew prior to starting private practice that had filled my caseload up, but it’s, but then maybe they were tapped out or what, but I didn’t get many calls. And so, at first these 1099’s were just sitting there just waiting and nothing was coming. And I was encouraging them to do marketing, but they really, it wasn’t really their personality. And so, I was just lying awake, “What am I going to do?” I listened to a podcast, it was an interview, having to do, SEO was mentioned. I think there was like a brief mention of the word meta descriptions. And so, there was a night late last winter, maybe early spring, where I just stayed up until 3:00 AM writing meta descriptions, rewriting them on my entire site, like even the blog posts. And then, a few weeks later I heard the word, just like one person said the word like Fetch as Google. They didn’t explain what it was. So, I got up, I googled it, and then I ran every single page of my website through Fetch as Google. And it just kind of kept going from there because I had created an excel sheet, a tracking sheet for my keywords. I had all these keywords that I wanted to rank for and I’d gone through and for most of them I wasn’t on the first 10 pages. So, I did all of this and you can literally see, I still keep that tracking sheet even though I have a much better way of tracking those keywords now because I can look at it and be reminded. I think it was like, the first big jump was like January 5th to January 6th. So, almost exactly a year ago was when I had first made differences and you can see the huge jump. And then from there you can see several other times where I learned a new skill and I implemented it and fetched everything through Google. And the very next day I, had gone from page 10 to page four and then from page four to page three overnight. And then from page three to half, you know, to the top of page three. It gets slower after you get up there. But now, pretty consistently for the last few months, a few search ‘counseling in Columbia, Missouri’ we’re the top private practice. We’re right underneath Psychology Today. I don’t need to overtake Psychology Today. They can have that spot because my website looks totally different than Psychology Today. [JOE] Yeah, but when you do, you’re going to be pretty thrilled because mental health counseling, I mean, Traverse City, is smaller. But it’s a fun thing when you can take them out, even if it’s just for a week. [JESSICA] Oh man, that would be awesome. [JOE] A girl can dream, right? [JESSICA] Yes. Oh Man, I’d be taking a picture of that. [JOE] So, what are things, for someone that wants to do this themselves, what are just like the top three or five things that they should really focus in on to rank higher in Google? [JESSICA] Yeah. So, step one is figuring out your keywords and I would consider a few short tail a few long tail keywords. [JOE] Dissect with that means. [JESSICA] Yes, absolutely. So, short tail keywords are the really small sentences. So, like ‘counseling in Columbia, Missouri’, right? It would be somewhat short tail. A long tail is like a full phrase. So, ‘counseling for PTSD in Columbia, Missouri’. So, I encourage people to go for a couple of those and a lot of times when we’re talking about the full phrases, I get the question, “But how many people search for that?” And so, I’ll pull it up and we’ll look and I’ll be like, “Well, it looks like about 10 a month is all the search for that.” However, if those 10 people that are searching for that count, I have ‘counseling for rape survivors’ as one of my long tail keywords that I track. If, I get the three people a month in Columbia, Missouri that search for ‘counseling for a rape survivors’, then I have acquired three clients a month. That’s excellent. [JOE] Yeah. [JESSICA] So, I don’t care that only three people are searching for that. I want to be at the top for those three people that are … And I also, and then on the other hand, I’ve heard people that say, “There’s no point in even trying to rank for counseling in my area.” Well, there’s absolutely a point in trying, it just will take longer. To get that top spot, it took me, about eight months, I think. The first six months I easily, I mean like within a couple of months I got to where I was directly underneath these two other local sites and I liked my website more than theirs. But they just were stubborn. I couldn’t get above them. And I think a lot of it had to do with their websites were years and years old and mine was like less than a year old. So, it’s harder to get those, but it’s worth trying because I did. And it really, I mean, when you about it, it took less than a year for me to overtake every, you know, all of these really well-established group practices in town. I’m pretty happy with that, and I was learning along the way. Of course, now I’m like, “Man, I could have done it so much faster if I had just known.” [JOE] I know. That’s why it’s great that you’re sharing this now. So, focusing on the keywords. What else should people do? [JESSICA] Yeah, so once you have those keywords, pay close attention to your headers. If you use WordPress or, I think even if other sites, other platforms do, you want one header, one on your site. So, a Header One is the biggest word on your site and that title should use your number one keyword that you want to rank for on that page. And then pay attention to other headers, break up your text. Actually, it makes skimming a lot easier, which we all know people skim, they don’t read every word. So, break up the text with some sub-headers that use your other keywords. So, for instance, if, ‘trauma counseling’ is the Header One, then the subheadings might be like ‘signs of PTSD’, ‘how to know if you have PTSD’, ‘does counseling help PTSD’, that sort of thing. So, you get in other versions of your keywords. [JOE] ‘What to expect from trauma counseling’. [JESSICA] Yes, exactly. Yes, that’s much better. I use PTSD like three times, but yeah, intermixing trauma counseling, trauma treatment, trauma therapy and PTSD, as well. Oftentimes, I really try to mix up treatment therapy and counseling. So, we rank for all three. But yeah, so subheadings, that’s a really good tip. Another one is, I love meta descriptions. You know, this, I could talk all day about meta descriptions — [JOE] So, for people that have no idea what a meta description is, what is it? [JESSICA] So, if you go to Google and type in whatever your niche is, ‘counseling in your area’. So, like, mine would be, if I searched in ‘trauma counseling in Columbia, Missouri’, right? They’re going to be a handful of things that come up for each of those, the blue words, unless you’ve clicked on before, and then usually it’s purple, but the blue thing is the title of that website. It’s, I’ll usually say, you know, so the competitions, therapy offers, whatever. Then underneath that there’s a little bitty slug, which you don’t have to pay much attention to. I think that’s usually green, but then there’s a couple sentences of magical texts and they’re like black usually or like a dark gray color. Those couple of sentences are the meta descriptions. And I feel like this is something that we just don’t give enough attention to. Even if people do meta descriptions, I feel like they don’t pay enough attention to it. I’m constantly tweaking meta descriptions. So, your meta description, if you don’t put anything else in there is going to be the first couple sentences of your web page or it’s going to be like some random texts that Google selects from the body of it based on the keywords that somebody has typed down. But if you’ve written a really nice meta description and you’ve customized it so that it speaks to your ideal client, it convinces them to have value so that they actually click on your page and it helps you rank well, then you’re golden and you’re going to be doing something that, there are other counseling clinics I’ve noticed that do this, but not a lot. If you search ”counseling in Columbia, Missouri’, my good friend Tara has her website, she’s done meta descriptions and she ranks very high. She ranks right below me, I think, or closely below me. But there are other websites that it’s just random, it doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t really tell me what the page is about. And so, it will really put you in, I’d say like the top 10% of private practices if you just go through and customize those. [JOE] Wow. And so, few people are even caring about what their website looks like. To take these extra steps just makes you stand out even in a competitive market. I’m still amazed at how many people have websites that have kind of clip art and are just ugly. So, to take it to this next level, it’s not going to guarantee you that you ranked number one, but you’re going to have a fighting chance for it for sure. [JESSICA] Yeah, it will help. [JOE] Yeah. What are some other tips that you would say in regards to ranking higher in Google? [JESSICA] So, definitely the meta descriptions, getting those perfect, and tweaking them. I know I already said this, but it’s really important. Then another one is, optimize your photos. So, when you’re putting pictures in to your website, make sure that they’re not too large. I know early on my tendency was, “Well, you want large photos. Why won’t WordPress let me upload this really large file?” I wanted it to be really clear. But the problem is if they’re too large, then it really slows down the time for it to load, which actually hurts you on SEO. So, make sure they’re, you know, the appropriate file size go through. And you want to have an appropriate title and alt text. You’ve talked, I think before on the podcast about alt text, haven’t you? [JOE] Yeah, we have. [JESSICA] It’s great. It’s like magical. It’s like the secret little hidden place that you can, you know, pack a big SEO punch by — [JOE] Take people through what that is. [JESSICA] So, alt text is, most of the time, completely invisible to a viewer on your site. Now if your photo doesn’t load for some reason, this alt text will be there. And so, you do want to make it appropriate for people to see. But for the most part it’s invisible. So, on the backend of your website, when you upload a photo, there is a place for the title of the photo, which a lot of people don’t use that. They just, you know, use whatever image, whatever — [JOE] Image 7045, [JESSICA] Yeah. [JOE] Yeah, which is very boring and does not tell anybody anything about the picture. So, usually mine will be like, I just did one yesterday for someone that offers play therapy. And so, a lot of the titles were things like, ‘family who feels reconnected after family therapy’ or something like that. And then, your alt text similarly, that’s where you really want to make sure that you’re putting in some keywords and I always do a location indicator in that too. So, for instance, ‘play therapy in Houston, Texas’, and then the zip code might be the alt text. So, that tells Google this picture is about play therapy in this area. Okay, and so, sometimes, and so then you get found a lot by image finder by that image search on Google as well when people search for images. [JOE] Well, I think that’s so important because these little things that you do, Google is always changing their formula and they don’t want you to know exactly how to kind of hack their system because they want it to be organic and they want it to kind of rank how it should. But the way that they change their formula, you never know if next month they’re going to switch it, that images, if they’re tagged correctly, they’re going to be what really helps you. Is it going to be long form or short form or you know, pillar posts? They’re always switching it up. And so, if you do it right the first time where you’re optimizing as much as you can, then if they switch things up, you don’t have to go back and change your photos or just, you know, not have that collateral. [JESSICA] Yeah, absolutely. I have a funny story about Google changing their algorithm. I think this is what happened. Right when I was starting like September-ish, I think October was when I really decided, “Okay, I’m going to actually help other people through SEO.” I’d been kind of helping a few random people here and there and seeing some results, but I was starting to feel pretty confident. I’m like, “Man, I helped a friend in a major metropolitan area get to page one from expert keywords. I got this. And then overnight, one of my keywords ‘help after rape’, which is a big thing, I do a lot of work with people who have survived sexual assault. It dropped like 70 on Google spots and I just like, my heart just dropped. I’m like, “That page is fully optimized. That phrase is all over. What is going on?” And so, I emailed a couple of other people who have been doing SEO longer than me and I was like, “What is going on?” And one of them’s like, “Google changed their algorithm on you.” Like, they just changed it. They did something. So, what I did is I completed, I just added, my website had a trauma page. And so, I just overnight added a new page that’s ‘counseling for survivors of sexual assault’. And I have it so it’s not on the main menu. If you hover down on the main services menu, it comes on to the side. It’s like an extra page you can go to for trauma. S, it’s not cluttering by having too many service pages, but I was able to get that SEO back up there. So, it’s something in the algorithm changed and they keep putting this down as a big secret. And so, I don’t know what it was. I just know that I was lucky that I monitor my keyword so closely and so it and was able to change course. So, I guess — [JOE] So, an idea of having a high-ranking page, first knowing that it’s ranking high and then next if it drops. So, you’re monitoring that drop and then pivoting and saying, “Well, I’m going to do a new page that has a similar subject matter, but I’m going to do it differently than the other page so maybe Google will pick up that one.” I love that flow that you’re paying attention, you’re keeping track of where things are and then you’re, you’re pivoting to make it rank higher when it’s actually time to rank higher. [JESSICA] Yeah, and adapting. We’ve got, for me, learning SEOs and adaption, I am the least technological person I know. I can’t figure out how to get Netflix to play on my darn TV at home. My husband can do it in two seconds. My son, a few weeks ago, he was like, my husband wasn’t home. He was like, “I want to watch this.” And I’m really tired. I’m like, “Okay, fine. We’re just kind of watch an episode of Daniel Tiger.” And we don’t have cable, so this means we’re going to have to watch it on Netflix. So, I’m trying, I’m trying. I’m trying. I can’t get on TV. And suddenly my son yelled at, he goes, “But mom, you know computers. You can do technology. Get this on the TV.” [JOE] I believe in you mom. [JESSICA] I’m like, “But not this type. And another example. I don’t have a printer at my office because I get so frustrated and can’t figure them out. So, I can’t do technology. I’m really like, just getting the Skype setup was a bit of a challenge and I’m so proud. And so, you know, but I can do SEO. Why? Because I adapt. Because we as therapists. If we want to survive in the business world, we have to be willing to adapt and we have to be able to learn things that maybe aren’t quite up our alley. I’ve also discovered that I love this, but it wasn’t up my alley to start with. It sounded miserable at first and was just a survival thing like, “I’ve got to do this if I’m going to survive and make a group practice.” And now I’m like, “This is so much fun. Oh my gosh, I just went up another, you know, I just got another keyword to the top spot.” [JOE] One of my favorite things is to see people have those light bulb moments where they realize, “Wow, my skillset can actually help other people.” And I know I saw that at Slow Down School where you kind of accidentally became the go-to expert for meta descriptions. And I don’t know if that kind of boosted your self-confidence being around other high-achieving practice owners, but it seemed like that was a place where you really started to flourish and be like, “Wait, I could actually do this as part of my arm of income.” [JESSICA] Yeah, I know Joe, that was like, one of my best moments of the past year. As I’m going to talk about highlights of 2018 in a couple weeks, that’s going to be up there because there was this one moment right before Slow Dance School and somebody in our mastermind group had asked a question about meta descriptions and what are they? And I’m almost certain that she thought that you would be the only one that would know the answer, right? And I immediately was like, I started talking and then you talk. And I was like, “Joe, I’m so sorry to interrupt.” And you’re like, “No, no, it’s cool. Go for it.” And I started feeling kind of good. I was like, I realized, I’m like, “I, this is a skill that not everybody, that I wasn’t stupid a year ago, a lot of people didn’t know this stuff.” And when we got there and I sat down with somebody who lived in a much larger metropolitan area than I did and we overnight were able to get her ranking from page 10, she had a much more established website than I did. And so, her progress was much faster and I got lot more skilled when I was going through, but we were able to take her from page 10 to page one for a couple of them. And then in the weeks after that we got more of her keywords to page one. But it was such a huge moment for me that I was like, “It’s no fluke.” Like these things work and they don’t just work for my website. They, all of this that I’ve learned a piece from this podcast, and a piece from this e-course, and a piece from this blog post. This can work anywhere in the country. And yeah, it was huge to be able to help other therapists and to be able to realize that they too can learn this. It doesn’t need to be some secret thing that we need to be paying a lot of money for somebody else to do. We can learn to do it ourselves. [JOE] Yeah. Well, and that’s why I invited you to be a speaker at Killin’It Camp. And so, you and Perry Rosenbloom from Brighter Vision are going to be presenting together about ranking higher in Google and optimizing your website. Brighter Vision’s going to have a website lab to help people whether or not they’re Brighter Vision clients, on their websites. And I’m just so excited for Killin’It Camp to have three days where we’re just diving into private practice and having people like you speak and guide and practically take us through things. So, if anyone listening is interested in Killin’It Camp, by the time this goes live, those tickets, will be open. We’ll be doing our early bird for those. It’s $650 until that early bird closes. And that includes all of your housing, all of your food and the conference out in Estes Park, Colorado. So, I’m so excited to have you come do that and to see you and Perry come up with something awesome. [JESSICA] It’s going to be awesome. So, my group practice website is actually a Brighter Vision site. And we were talking earlier before we got on the call that I’m not a website designer. And they have beautiful websites. Why would I need to learn that? And so, they’ve helped me really customize. I’m kind of, I think I’m a pain in their side, but they told me I’m not because I’m constantly like, “Okay, I want you to customize this, I want you to tweak this.” And I’ve learned to do so much myself. But they have a new SEO tool that is really helping me and it turns out you don’t have to have a Brighter Vision website for them to use this thing. It’s called brighter insights. And that’s how I was beta testing that for them. And that’s how we caught when I dropped overnight night. And so, right now all of my SEO clients are, almost all of them, that I’m helping them rank, we’re monitoring their keywords on Brighter Vision. And so, I really have felt like my work and their work has really dovetailed off one another and I’ve been able to pretty quickly help a couple of the Brighter Vision customers take their already nice website and get to ranking much, much higher on search engines. [JOE] Oh, that’s so awesome. Well, Jessica, the last question I always ask is if every private practice owner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know? [JESSICA] That they can adapt and learn to do things that they never even thought about doing in order. And it can be fun to do that. [JOE] I mean, I think that’s so key to enjoy the work that we do and to let it morph where we’re feeling called and excited. That’s so cool. Well, Jessica, the website’s simplifiedseoconsulting.com. Anything you want people to know about that website? [JESSICA] It is still a work in progress. I have, I anticipate making some changes, but if you go to that, most importantly, we are launching hopefully within the next two weeks and certainly by the time this is live, there will be a seven-day free e-course. And not e-course, I am so excited because I’ve taken all these SEO tools that I taught myself, that I learned a little bit from here and there and there, and I’ve put them in one email series. I’m probably going to get feedback that I’m too wordy on these emails, but they are chuck-full of good information. There will be a video each day for those of you that really don’t want to read all of my wordiness. You can just watch the video, they’ll have the same information. But it’s going to be a great way to jumpstart so that you can learn to do your own SEO without having to, without having to pay big bucks. And of course, after that I’m happy to help people individualize and learn to apply it to their specific website. But I think it’s full of, I think it’s an excellent starting jumping off point and pretty, pretty detailed with how to do all of these things we’ve been talking about, the meta descriptions, the keywords, the subheadings, the alt text. It’s all in there. [JOE] Oh, that’s awesome. Well, we will put a link in the show notes over to Simplified SEO Consulting. We’ll also put links to Alison Starter Group, Practice Group, Killin’It Camp, Ideal Team Player, Profit First, Slow Down School, Next Level Mastermind, all the other things that Jessica and I talked about. Jessica, thank you so much for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast. [JESSICA] Thank you so much Joe. You have a wonderful day. [JOE] Yeah, you too. So, go in there, evaluate your meta descriptions, look at your SEO, take all these tips and give it some action. Go after those big goals. And if you’re looking for help just make your payroll so much easier. Head on over to gusto.com/Joe. What you’re going to get is some amazing customer service that just make payroll so much easier for yourself. Again, that’s gusto.com/Joe. And thanks so much for letting us into your ears and into your brain will talk to you next week. This podcast is designed to provide accurate, authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the hosts, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one and special thanks to the intro music musicians Silence is Sexy. We love your music.